Receiver is tough match for Kentucky

Steve Spurrier: South Carolina's coach looks to continue his unbeaten streak vs. Kentucky.



LEXINGTON, Ky. --- Steve Spurrier has never had a team like this one at South Carolina, and not just because the Gamecocks have won four of their first five games and beat then-No. 1 Alabama last week.

Led by bruising freshman Marcus Lattimore and burly wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, Spurrier has traded the "Fun and Gun" style he used at Florida to something more akin to "Smash and Run."

It's worked so well that the Gamecocks are ranked 10th going into today's Southeastern Conference game at Kentucky (3-3).

If Lattimore isn't churning out yards between the tackles, Jeffery is using his 6-foot-4 frame to dominate smaller cornerbacks. His breakout game came a year ago, when he scored three touchdowns in a 28-26 win over the Wildcats.

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips called Jeffery "a great rebounder." He could find little fault with the way his team defended Jeffery a year ago. When your corners are giving away 4 to 5 inches to a receiver, sometimes great technique isn't enough.

"They just throw it up to him and let him go down the field 10 yards and post up and just throw the ball up to him," Phillips said.

Though Jeffery lacks the breakaway speed at receiver that Spurrier enjoyed at Florida, he doesn't necessarily need it.

His 45-yard reception in the fourth quarter against Alabama was typical Jeffery. He boxed out an Alabama defender, then hauled in the lob from quarterback Stephen Garcia and raced inside the Alabama 5, setting up Lattimore's clinching touchdown.

"We go into it like he's a special player, and there's one of those somewhere on the other team every week," Kentucky linebacker Ronnie Sneed said. "This week, he's that guy. We plan on playing him like normal."

Hopefully a little better than that. The Wildcats have dropped three in a row, mainly because their opponents have scored on all 22 possessions inside Kentucky's red zone.

"We've just got to bow up," Phillips said.

Lattimore and Jeffery don't make it easy.

"(Jeffery) is killing everybody right now," Kentucky defensive coordinator Steve Brown said. "I watched Alabama, he had two touchdowns. He killed them."

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Sat, 11/18/2017 - 21:21

First buck taken